tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC August 21, 2012 1:00pm-2:00pm EDT
show, then you are what we would call in britain a gutless little twerp. >> the republican establishment cuts akin loose. >> his comments about rape were deeply offensive and i can't defend what he said, i can't defend him. >> but is akin dancing to a different drummer? religious leaders are in his corner. >> let's get on with life. let's run the campaign. >> plus, paul ryan campaigning today in western pennsylvania. and moments from now, as we speak, the president live in his home away from home, battleground ohio. good day. i'm andrea mitchell live in washington. as the president warms up that crowd, five hours from now, missouri senate candidate todd akin either caves in to
republican pressure and pulls out of the race, hangs around and pays penalties if he gets out later. our new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll shows just how bad it is for congress even before this controversy. just how unpopular congress really is. take a look at this. 82% of those polled now disapprove of congress, that's tied for the all-time high in our polling. only 12% approve. joining me now from new york, chuck todd, nbc's chief white house correspondent and political director, host of "the daily rundown" and here on the set, national journal's white house correspondent major garrett. chuck, let's go through the poll numbers. this is a terrible number for congress. what does it say about the wisdom of putting a house member, house republican, on the ticket? >> well, first, look, we're always looking to figure out how can the country come together. well, the country has come together on this issue. 82%, you can't get 82% to agree on much. 82% of folks we polled agree on
this, the idea that they disapprove of what congress is doing in their job. this was always the extra piece of baggage that was always going to be hardest to explain away when you brought on paul ryan. it was sort of the -- it was more knowable and at the same time, one that it's my understanding wasn't debated as much. when you heard about all things having to do with paul ryan, when that debate was taking place in the campaign, it was always through the prism of medicare. secondary was the conversation well, are you adoptin a brand that is unpopular in the country and that brand being house republicans, in particular. this is over all congress, don't forget, this is people disapproving of the democratic controlled senate, the republican house, but when you look at the numbers also, the republican brand has been a mess basically since before -- since the debt ceiling showdown began. the brand of the republican party has been underwater and farther underwater than the brand of the democratic party now for over a year. >> when we look at this poll, we
see just how toxic this is. what about todd akin getting out? he doubled down last night, he was a no-show on cnn and then did this strange commercial asking for forgiveness. what is the impact of that as religious leaders rally around him, all the republican leaders that i hear are saying to me you know, his attitude, todd akin's attitude is the republican party, the republican establishment was never in his corner, they never wanted him to win the primary so he's saying basically the heck with you, i can rely on religious leaders to back me up. >> put yourself in his shoes. number one, you sit there and say wait a minute, i've got to make a decision whether i can ride this out in the next 24 hours, or it's down to five hours now, no. i want more time and i'm sure somebody is saying look, you can take more time, somebody said if you got to get out later or something like that, there is -- you can see how he will
rationally accept even the idea that, you know, he doesn't have to make this decision today so i think the pressure, the more pressure that gets applied from the establishment, my understanding of people that know todd akin very well, the more likely he's going to dig in his heels because of what you just mentioned. they were never for him in the first place. this is what happened when they decided not to get involved in primaries anymore. i understand politically why they did. john cornyn wants to stay a u.s. senator. mitch mcconnell doesn't want a primary challenge two years from now. i understand why they did it politically. but this is what happens. the chicken's coming home to roost now. >> when we hear major garrett, the fact is that john mccain has gone on radio in his home state today, saying todd akin should get out. this is unified. mitt romney is the head of the party right now. mitt romney is saying so. reince priebus, the republican chairman, they're all telling him to get out. and cutting off his money. >> yes. and they're cutting off his money, telling him you have no options. todd akin understands two things about this race.
one, he made a horrible mistake and he's probably disqualified himself from the united states senate. that's one thing he probably understands. the other thing is that people are telling him to get out, weren't his friends before. you weren't my friends before, you're not my friends now. only thing that's changed is he's fouled up this race himself so he says well, if i fouled it up, it's up to me to solve it. if i can't solve it, i'll win or lose based on what i've done. i won the primary, i outfoxed two other republicans and the establishment and i'll stick and stay. everyone i talked to today believes todd akin will not get out today. the ad buy today is his way of signaling he's going to stay, $150,000. claire mccaskill put up half a million. this race is now a net positive for democrats. claire mccaskill has to be considered the underlying favorite to win. and it's what republicans -- >> she was way behind until this happened. >> -- would now regard as a potentially sizeably missed opportunity. >> in addition to the missed opportunity for republicans who need a net pickup of four senate seats and let's talk about that
for a second. they need four seats. this was a gimme putt because mccaskill was so far behind but what about the impact on the presidential race and the gender divide? we in our last polling had a pretty big gender divide nationally. >> every poll has had it consistently. >> so chuck, is there a way that paul ryan also gets caught up in this, because he has worked with, as a house republican leader, he's worked with todd akin in the past. >> let's look at what's happening today in tampa, and the platform. the fact of the matter is the republican party has had a platform that its presidential nominees have disagreed with when it comes to abortion for now the third straight presidential election year, and that is this idea of basically that human life amendment, no exceptions on abortion. no exceptions -- >> i should point out we have the platform right here. this is it from 2008 through -- >> 2004. >> 2004. it has been the same. >> that's right. >> exactly. >> bush disagreed with it, 2008 and mccain disagreed with it 2012 romney disagrees with it.
it's the timing of it, though. right? we do know what the president's campaign has been doing. this has very much been a voter segmented tv ad campaign that they've been running. they target women voters, particularly in the suburbs, northern virginia, colorado, the suburbs of denver, we know both states have seen the abortion issue be used in favor of democrats in the past. you talked to michael bennett's campaign and they will tell you that was their secret ingredient was running ads targeted to women on the issue of abortion. never showed up in any of the debates that often but it's what they did behind the scenes on the ground and it's what the obama campaign's doing and the timing of this couldn't be worse for romney. >> speaking of the obama campaign, stay with me a second. let's go to ohio, where the president is speaking right now. >> -- with a mountain of debt. when we married, we got poorer together.
we combined our liabilities into one big liability. we paid more for our student loans than we paid on our mortgage each month, and that went on for years, and then once we had malia and sasha, we needed to start saving for their college educations but we were still paying off our college educations. now, keep in mind, we were lucky enough to land good jobs. we had steady incomes. but we did not finish paying off our student loans until about eight years ago. think about that. i got an education, it worked out pretty good, but, but the point i'm making is i'm only standing before you because of the chance that my education
gave me. so i can tell you with some experience that making higher education more affordable for our young people is something i've got a personal stake in. it's something that michelle has a personal stake in. we believe in it because we've been there and we know that unless you provide those rungs on the ladder of opportunity, young people who are more talented than we are may not get a shot. that's why i've made it a top priority of my presidency and ohio, that is something that is at stake in this election. that's part of the reason why november is so important. i say this because putting a college education within reach for working families just doesn't seem to be a big priority for my opponent. you know, a few months ago just up the road in westerville,
governor romney said if you want to be successful, if you want to go to college or start a business, you can just, and i'm quoting here, borrow money if you have to from your parents. when a high school student in youngstown asked him what he would do to make college more affordable for families like his, governor romney didn't say anything about grants or loan programs that are critical to millions of students to get a college education. he said nothing about work study programs or rising college tuition. he didn't say a word about community colleges or how important higher education is to america's future. he said the best thing you can do is shop around. the best thing i can do for you is to tell you to shop around. that's it. that's his plan.
that's his answer to young people who are trying to figure out how to go to college and make sure that they don't have a mountain of debt. shop around and borrow more money from your parents. now, i've just got to say, i want to make sure everybody understands not everybody has parents who have the money to lend. that may be news to some folks, but it's the truth. so what governor romney is offering is not an answer. there's nothing a parent wants more than to give opportunities to their kids that they never had. and you know, it's pretty painful for a lot of parents if they can't do that. but as we're fighting back from the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, you've got a lot of parents who are out there struggling just to make ends
meet, and i don't accept the notion that we should deny any child the opportunity to get a higher education, if they have been working hard, if they've got the grades, if they've got the determination to get a better future for themselves, i don't want them to be prevented just because their families were hit hard by a recession. that's not who we are. >> chuck todd, the president back in ohio. it seems to me that he could practically open a side office of the white house in ohio, he's been there so often. >> it is remarkable, a year ago i remember obama strategists, major and i were both here, hey, guys, there are other ways for us to get to 270 without ohio. now, when you look at the big three, i call them, which is virginia, florida and ohio, i think the three that are the linchpins here, they feel better about ohio than any of those
three states and frankly i think the romney campaign feels that way in reverse. ohio is this challenge for them that frankly they never expected but it's why you see this targeting on welfare. this is all targeting white working class voters in ohio are not flocking to romney in the way they thought they would. >> you've been doing a lot of analysis of that as well. >> yes. what it seems to me is becoming clear in this campaign is that both sides, the obama camp and the romney camp, are treating this as a base election, not a base plus election, and i think the welfare ads and the advocacy, the belligerence of romney on that and the aggressive push-back of the president is about those voters. romney needs to jack the percentage of that very, very high, especially men, in order to compete with the other demographic advantages the president has in ohio, florida, virginia, everywhere else. that appears to be one of the central dynamics of this race in the last two or three weeks.
it's becoming -- feels more like a base on base strategy and i think that's where romney is heading. with akin and these other things on the platform, that's becoming more deeply imbedded in his campaign. >> chuck, do we think medicare is going to be a game changer in this presidential campaign with ryan on the ticket? >> you know, they have to -- the romney people frankly have to hope they fight it to a draw. it starts out in a bad place for republicans. they knew that going in. they knew that when they picked ryan. but they have to spend a lot of time having to argue it to a draw if they even get there. we'll see if they get there. that in and of itself, you got to ask yourself, is that time well spent. >> chuck todd, always time well spent with you, my friend, and with major garrett. thank you both very much. chuck, we'll see you later, of course. the full nbc news/"wall street journal" poll later.
up next, the fallout from the todd akin controversy. stay with us. we expect to hear this hour from him. he's going on the radio. and the battle for the women's vote. we talk to senator barbara boxer. still ahead, mitt romney opens up about his faith. [ mrs. hutchison ] friday night has always been all fun and games here at the hutchison household. but one dark stormy evening... she needed a good meal and a good family. so we gave her purina cat chow complete. it's the best because it has something for all of our cats! and after a couple of weeks she was part of the family. we're so lucky that lucy picked us. [ female announcer ] purina cat chow complete. and for a delicious way to help maintain a healthy weight, try new purina cat chow healthy weight.
with regard to my own view, i made it very clear i'm pro-life but i believe there should be exceptions in the case of rape and incest and when the life of the mother's at stake. in those circumstances, i think abortion may be appropriate. >> that was mitt romney just moments ago during an interview with our nbc affiliate in columbus, ohio. once again, he condemned in that interview todd akin's
controversial remarks on rape and he stated his own position on abortion rights which do not match the position we should point out of the proposed republican platform which is being debated today in tampa, will be voted on tonight and voted on finally at the convention on monday. akin's remarks of course have revived the gender wars. stephanie is the president of emily's list, a group of women working to recruit democratic women to run for elected office. how are you doing in that regard in getting democratic women into these races? >> 2012 has been an extraordinary year for emily's list. already we've had a historic number of women stepping up to run for the united states senate. we have endorsed ten women already this year. historic numbers in the house running. it's really been an incredible opportunity for women to step up and in this environment, they really have a strong position and policy both on economics and on social issues to run on. >> of course, the romney camp
has said all along that women are focused mostly on jobs, on the terrible economy, on unemployment, and that they will deal more with that than with these gender debates over health issues, over abortion, over planned parenthood. >> well, it's interesting that the romney/ryan camp say that, yet the republican party keeps bringing up these social issues. the democratic party is very much right on top of the issues women want to be talking about, and we now are seeing a presidential ticket who brought on paul ryan and the budget that he proposed, a budget that has really been a cradle to grave attack on the economic opportunities for women, from head start, pay equity, medicare. these are huge important issues for women voters across the country. this is why we're going to see this gender gap continue to grow, not just on the reproductive rights which is clearly after what we've heard from todd akin and the
republican party in the last 48 hours, a huge issue. >> mike huckabee has just heard on the radio he's staying in the race, he's not getting out. >> here's what's so disappointing to me as an american woman in this. it's not just todd akin and his comments. we really have a republican party right now that has moved so far to the right, as you just mentioned, the republican platform being debated today -- >> it's the same platform they had four years ago and four years before that. >> they keep just driving this and driving this and i think what is happening is american voters and women are hearing more and more about this platform and here's what's really terrifying. congress in the last 18 months, legislatures around the country have been enacting these laws or trying to, introducing those. keep in mind, todd akin and paul ryan were co-sponsors of a piece of legislation just in 2011 that
would have redefined rape, meaning that some rapes matter more than others. this is an actual piece of legislation that this republican party, these house republicans, paul ryan, todd akin and 200 of them stood by already in the last 18 months. >> this is another part of that interview with our affiliate in columbus, ohio. mitt romney talking about planned parenthood. >> i've never had the posture of saying we're going to get rid of planned parenthood. what i said is we're not going to have the federal government funding planned parenthood. planned parenthood is a private institution and like any private institution is certainly welcome to generate revenue from fees and from charitable contributions but what i think is not the right course is to have the tax payers paying for planned parenthood which as you know is one of the leading, if not the largest provider of abortion services in the country. >> your reaction to that?
>> this is precisely why women across the country are going to vote for barack obama this november and democrats and particularly democratic women up and down the ticket. planned parenthood is an incredibly important institution in this country providing health care, basic health care, mammograms, pap smears, the basic things that we need, cancer screenings for millions and millions of women, and this is something that society should be supporting and we have seen the outcry of americans to support planned parenthood in the last 18 months and we will see that right through this election. the republican party led by romney is just wrong on this issue. >> thank you very much. we should point out we have been trying to get the romney campaign to join this debate today and they have said they don't have an appropriate spokesperson but we will keep trying. thank you very much for being with us. up next, will the akin controversy help democrats now hold on to the senate?
and still ahead, inside syria. richard engel, just back from his exclusive reporting with the re rebels on the ground. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports." [ male announcer ] if you stash tissues like a squirrel stashes nuts, you may be muddling through allergies. try zyrtec® liquid gels. nothing starts working faster than zyrtec® at relieving your allergy symptoms for 24 hours. zyrtec®. love the air. at relieving your allergy symptoms for 24 hours.
i just wish it wouldn't fade away so fast. let me show you something. [ dr. rahmany ] as soon as you leave here... plaque quickly starts to grow back. but now there's a way to keep the clean longer. introducing new crest pro-health clinical rinse. it's a clinical breakthrough that actually keeps your teeth 91% clean of plaque at 2 months after a dental visit. plus, it gives you these key benefits. new crest pro-health clinical rinse. crest. life opens up when you do. also try new crest pro-health clinical plaque control toothpaste. you walk into a conventional mattress store, it's really not about you. they say, "well, if you wanted a firm bed you can lie on one of those. if you want a soft bed you can lie on one of those." we provide the exact individualization that your body needs. welcome to the sleep number store's biggest sale of the year. not just ordinary beds on sale, but the bed that can change your life on sale. the sleep number bed. never tried this before. this is your body there. you can see a little more pressure in the hips. take it up one notch. oh gosh, yes. when you're playing around with that remote, you get
that moment where you go, "oh yeah" oh, yeah! ... and it's perfect. right now, every sleep number bed is on sale. queen mattresses now start at just $599. and save an incredible 40% on our silver limited edition bed - but only while supplies last. once you experience it, there's no going back. wow. don't miss the biggest sale of the year on the bed that can change your life. the sleep number bed. sale ends soon! only at one place: one of our 400 sleep number stores.
democrats are seizing on the akin controversy to score points with women voters, hoping that this helps them hold on to the senate. senator barbara boxer, democrat from california, joins me now. senator, thanks very much for being with us. first of all, your reaction to the akin controversy. he has now told mike huckabee on the radio just within minutes ago that he is staying in the race. >> i'm not that shocked because what he said was vile, let's look at what he said. he basically said that if it's a legitimate rape, a woman would not get pregnant. and not only is this just insane when it comes to science, but it just shows you his mindset toward women.
in other words, we're to blame. so it is shocking and i guess i would take issue with your political points because, you know, we are in an election year, but we have to respond to this. but here's why i'm not that shocked that he's not dropping out. he has stood shoulder to shoulder with mainstream republicans and i would say that includes paul ryan. in other words, the new mainstream is really extreme. they were partners when it came to the personhood amendment. they were partners when it came to redefining rape, outlawing contraception and so he feels why should i get out, i'm being picked on but essentially i've just been saying what a lot of republicans are thinking. that's true. >> yet all these republicans now, the republican establishment from reince priebus to mitt romney, we are told also paul ryan, called him and was trying to urge him to get out. that may not have been the way
he took the conversation, but all of these republicans now urging him to get out. so the party has moved in a pretty unified direction here. it is' only at this point the religious leaders who are rallying around him. >> let's just take a look at that. sure, they want him out because they want to take that seat in missouri. we have a very mainstream candidate, claire mccaskill, and they know that this republican line in certain states, if it's a statewide race, doesn't work. but let's look at what mitt romney did. he picked paul ryan, who is on a bill to redefine rape and outlaw birth control. you know, no matter what romney says, he said he wanted to get rid of planned parenthood. now he says oh, he just meant he would defund it. you know what that means? it means that three million americans would no longer get breast cancer screenings, cervical screenings, screenings for std.
97% of what they do is not abortion-related. mitt romney himself is radical. he backed the republican platform that outlawed abortion with no exceptions for rape and incest. so yes, they're running away from todd akin but their position now has to be looked at and it is radical. >> excuse me for that. let me just play a little of the exchange with mike huckabee on the radio just moments ago. >> we're going to continue because i believe there is a cause here, and there is a part of the message that's missing and a lot of people feel left out of the parties. >> you have made the point on the substance but there is also the politics. let's take a look at the fact that republicans need a net pickup of four seats to take over the senate. claire mccaskill was very challenged in this race. todd akin was way ahead. when we look at some of the seats that are being targeted, you have been in this game a
long time. nebraska, north dakota, montana, wisconsin, virginia, missouri. do you think with this todd akin controversy that mccaskill can hold on to her seat, do you think the democrats will hold on to the senate? >> frankly, i never gave up on claire. anyone who knows her knows she's a fighter and she is the mainstream candidate and he is the extreme candidate. but here's why i think you're right to look at a broader look at the country. when people look at todd akin, they will shocked but then when they look beyond that to see what mitt romney has said about women's health and what paul ryan has said and done and what legislation he has co-sponsored that really go after women, i think we'll see a bigger gender gap across the country. i really do. i have been in this a long time and one of the things that's been frustrating to me is i've been going around saying there's a war on women and it isn't just
health. it isn't just choice. it's economics, it's medicare. most of the people on medicare are women. ryan wants to end medicare, turn it into a voucher program. give an old lady, an 80-year-old woman a voucher and say you know, we know it's $6,000 short, go out and find health insurance. this is not good for the country and i think what todd akin did is just open up that window to look beyond todd akin and when people realize he's not getting out of the race, it's because he's thinking why should i get out of the race, i'm not that far off from paul ryan in my views. >> thank you very much, senator barbara boxer. we'll have more on medicare, by the way, and the revised ryan plan and the facts and differences coming up in the next segment. up next, mitt romney's leap of faith. plus the president's red line on syria. while some fiber ads use super models,
metamucil uses super hardworking psyllium fiber, which gels to remove unsexy waste and reduce cholesterol. taking psyllium fiber won't make you a model, but you should feel a little more super. metamucil. down with cholesterol. it's the only way to get fresh coffee. not in my house! this new flavor lock pack from maxwell house
topping the headlines right now on "andrea mitchell reports," two college students were killed, they were killed this morning after a train derailment in maryland. train cars fell from a bridge just outside of baltimore, crushing a number of vehicles in a parking lot below. it was a freight train derailment. two women were on the train tracks at the time of the incident. endurance swimmer diana nyad has failed again in her latest attempt to swim from cuba to florida. her team said she called an end to her fourth try of this difficult swim this morning, one day before her 63rd birthday. nyad will be on the "today" show tomorrow, made her first attempt at the swim back in 1978. comedy legend phyllis diller died monday at her brentwood,
california home. she paved the way for future female standup comedians, becoming a staple in the 1960s, working with another comedy icon, bob hope. she was 95 years old. the president gave his most definitive statement to date yesterday about just what it would take for him to order u.s. military action in syria. >> we have been very clear to the assad regime but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. that would change my calculus. >> nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel has just returned from his third trip inside syria since the uprising began. he spent three weeks on the ground with the rebels. richard, so good to see you home. thanks for joining us today. the experiences that you had on the ground, first of all, what do you know from what -- from
all the time you spent with the rebels about the possible movement of chemical weapons and that threat, because that is the red line the president established yesterday in his answer to chuck todd. >> it's a fairly high bar. he's saying that there won't be any military intervention unless syria is about to use chemical weapons or starts using them. from the rebels' perspective, that is a very high bar indeed. they want intervention, at least supplies right now. i think they would be very happy if there were a no-fly zone, if suddenly the u.s. or other allies, nato, started to destroy military capability or at least gave them weapons. in terms of chemical weapons, the syrian rebels don't really have any visibility on that. they don't know where they are. they're afraid of them, but i didn't see any evidence of chemical weapons being used or being moved while i was with the rebels. >> i know the rebels have been counting on these defections. what more do we know about
current and future defections? we saw that assad re-emerged yesterday in public under tightly controlled situation. is there a splintering and crumbling of the regime from the core? >> there certainly is. the government no longer functions as a government. basic services in the country do not work. children aren't going to school. people aren't running the economy like it normally would be running. government salaries aren't being paid. the government has collapsed. there is an inner circle around the core but that inner circle is getting smaller. more than 30 generals have defected since the start of this uprising. many ambassadors and senior leaders or several ambassadors, i should say, and senior political leaders in the country. i think bashar al assad's grip on power is getting significantly weaker and you're seeing other groups, particularly iran and hezbollah,
taking an ever increasing role in running the country. i got the impression that i wasn't sure how much bashar al assad is really in charge of syria. i'm not sure if he's even free to leave the country or to order the government to do what he wants it to do. iran is very powerful, hezbollah is very powerful. some of the -- say some of his security chiefs and generals who are still there are very powerful. but there is a lot of splintering but i didn't get the impression that it's all bashar al assad. he might be the fall guy or the symbol for this regime. >> richard engel, fascinating stuff from your exclusive reporting inside syria. thanks very much. again, welcome home. >> thank you. is mitt romney ready to make faith a larger part of his campaign? the travel pool on sunday, the protective travel pool captured the governor and his family at church this past sunday, the
possible first sign that his mormon faith could be included in the messaging to voters. joining me is someone who knows more about this than anyone else, deputy washington bureau chief for the boston globe and co-author of "the real romney" the definitive book about mitt romney for this campaign cycle. what is your sense because there's been a lot of criticism out there that mitt romney is running away from his record in massachusetts as governor, running away from his faith, not wanting it to be front and center, but he seemed to be embracing at least the public nature of it. >> that's right. throughout the campaign, we've heard a lot of commentators say that mitt romney does not reveal much about himself, his massachusetts record on health care, his mormon faith, which really shapes a lot about who he is. he gave a little known speech in 1995 to his former prep school and he said his mormon faith was quote, one of the most important treasures of my life, unquote. yet it's a treasure he's kept mostly in a private place. last sunday as you mentioned, there's recently been a
protective pool in which a pool representative of the press goes with the candidate almost everywhere that they allow that, and he allowed the pool to go into the mormon church in new hampshire, near his summer home. so they got a glimpse of something that romney really hasn't shown before in that way. so his aides do say now that they do intend to show more of that side of romney at the convention next week. they'll have people talk about his role, for example, as a church leader in boston. >> he was more than a quote, church leader, according to all of your reporting and what we know about him. he was a bishop in the church. i w it was a very important role. >> in the mormon church, you have lay people who lead the church so in boston, it's a collection of churches in the boston area. he was head of that for a number of years. he counseled people. >> they say he spent 30 hours a week. >> many hours doing that. the way romney and this campaign has tried to talk more about his faith is not about the tenets of
mormonism. that's not something he does. he said as a church leader i dealt with people who were poor and that's his way of trying to respond to people who say can you relate to the poor. he talked about how he's talked with them, helped them, helped bury people throughout his role as a church leader. >> martin, thank you so much. of course, the real romney which is the political bible for this campaign, thank you. is paul ryan right about medicare? the "the washington post" robert samuelson makes the case next on "andrea mitchell reports." one is for a clean, wedomestic energy future that puts us in control. our abundant natural gas is already saving us money, producing cleaner electricity, putting us to work here in america and supporting wind and solar. though all energy development comes with some risk, we're committed to safely and responsibly producing natural gas.
ambitions. we'll play his latest interview. plus, does akin's decision continue to tie up congressman paul ryan in this big mess? after all, ryan did co-sponsor legislation with the language forcible rape included with akin. this all comes as the gop is planning to vote on language in its party platform on abortion. we'll talk to you about that, all coming up on "news nation." paul ryan kept up his criticism of the president and focus on medicare this morning in an appearance in pittsburgh. >> medicare is important to each and every one of us. somebody in our family relies on this program or is about to rely on this program. >> but which political party is more likely to rescue medicare from going off the cliff? "washington post" columnist robert samuelson joins us now. you wrote a column that said why ryan might be right about medicare.
talk to us about why the ryan plan might actually be the best solution for preserving and saving medicare. >> well, the real problem here is not just medicare. it is the uncontrolled nature of health care spending which if we allow to continue, will essentially crowd out most other functions of government simply because there are no limits on it whatsoever. and what this study that i reported in my column showed is that a kind of prototype of voucher plan that is already being used by medicare actually has lower costs than traditional medicare and that people seem to be equally satisfied with it. you have roughly 25% of medicare beneficiaries already in this program. so i would say it's not an open and shut case, but there's good evidence there that another approach might provide the same level of services at a lower cost and that's really what we need and because medicare is the largest insurance company -- insurance program in the
country, what it does will affect the rest of the health care system. >> this was a study from the journal of the american medical association, looking at the medicare advantage accounts. the criticism of that and help me if i'm wrong about this, is that the voucher system would cherry pick. it would take the seniors who are the least needing expensive medical procedures and leave those least able to take care of themselves for medicare so that medicare would be weighed down by those who are left behind. is that criticism valid? >> right. the argument is that healthier seniors go into these programs and therefore, their costs are lower as a result of that. the study that these three economists did, all from harvard, tries to adjust for that. now, it's unclear whether the adjustment does a kind of complete cleansing of the differences between people, so you have this level of
uncertainty, but the article seems to indicate to me, at least, that there's fairly strong evidence that the costs of medicare advantage are actually lower after you adjust for risk but again, this is an issue and it's one of the things we need to debate and find out. there is another example, however, of the voucher program that ryan proposes, succeeding in medicare, and that's part d, which is for drug benefits. went that was introduced in 2006, it turned out that the costs were much lower than anticipated by roughly 30% to 40%. and again, one possible explanation is that voucher system sets in motion competition that forces these plans to become more efficient and hold down their costs. again there are other explanations for lower costs. you have some kind of confusion.
there is some evidence that this voucher approach may work. >> which is a very hot political topic. question political party outside of the numbers can actually explain this to the voters without it being such a third rail that the debate never gets engaged? robert samuelsson thank you for opening up the conversation. what political story will make headlines in the next 24 hours? that's next on "andrea mitchell reports." setting up the news starts with arthritis pain and a choice. take tylenol or take aleve, the #1 recommended pain reliever by orthopedic doctors. just two aleve can keep pain away all day. back to the news.
which political story will make headlines in the next 24 hours? we're talking about the 5:00 deadline. "the washington post" editorial write somewhere msnbc contributor jonathan capehart joins me. 5:00 a decision one way or the other from todd akin but he's said to mike huckabee today, and now do another conservative radio host, he's not getting out. but he seems to be digging a deeper hole, because he explained to lohse that when he was apologizing, he shouldn't
have used the word "legitimate" for rape. he was trying to explain false rape, whatever a false rape is used in like roe v. wade. i don't know what he's talking. i have to look at the whole thing in context. sounds as though things are getting worse. >> getting worse. as the president said here yesterday, rape is rape. but what we're seeing is the fact that congressman akin probably thinks he's -- he doesn't need to worry about the republican establishment trying to push him out of the race but the people who made him the republican nominee are people who agree with him and agree with his viewpoint, and if he's going to win the senate seat he's going to win it with their help. >> as one republican establishment figure said to me yesterday, if it weren't this, it would be something else. todd akin is going to keep doing things that upset the republican establishment. thank you, jonathan. that does it for us for this edition of "andrea mitchell reports."
and my colleague tamron hall has a look at "news nation." >> picking up from the new interview that senate candidate todd akin just conducted where he refers now to something as false rapes that were used in, quote, like roe v. wade. what he means by quote false rapes, the latest couple of interviews he's done in the last few minutes and how this link between akin and congressman paul ryan is continuing and may give the democrats a lot of steam ahead. halso a look at official republican party platform. the committee will look at draft language tonight that says they would outlaw abortions in all circumstances, even in cases of rape or incest, that is in direct conflict to what mitt romney said just this week. a big panel for you coming up in two minutes. [ male announcer ] research suggests the health of our cells plays a key role